Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson was among three mayors who gave testament on how the opioid crisis has ravaged communities during a briefing Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
The National League of Cities hosted mayors from diverse communities around the country to speak on their battle with opioid addiction in their cities and what they need from federal leaders to help stop it, according to an NLC news release.
“The opioid crisis will not go away on its own. As elected officials, we must take action so that our cities can continue to be the foundation of our country, and that action must come from a coordinated effort involving every level of government,” Freeman-Wilson, who also serves as vice president of NLC, said. “If funding continues to stall at the state and federal levels instead of being fully dispersed to America’s most affected cities, we are just treading water.”
Along with Freeman-Wilson, Mayor Steve Williams of Huntington, Virginia, and Mayor Madeline Rogero of Knoxville, Tennessee, also convened on Capitol Hill for the briefing, titled “Cities and the Opioid Crisis: A Mayor's Perspective.”
The briefing Wednesday followed Congress' passage of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which is a bipartisan initiative to comprehensively address and fight the opioid epidemic throughout the nation.
The mayors agreed while the federal legislation was a move in the right direction, “it simply did not go far enough,” according to the NLC news release.
“Simply put, we need Congress and the president to prioritize the fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic,” Rogero said. “Our federal leaders must coordinate with local partners on resource allocation and what the most effective programs and policies to put into place are. Cities must remain hopeful and innovative – our nation is strongest when we work together to find long-term solutions.”
The NLC released a report addressing state and local strategies to quell the epidemic and hosted a Mayor's Institute on opioids in May. In November, the NLC's annual City Summit conference will hold working sessions on policies and programs.